Record Car Sales Help Auto ETF Rev Up

Automobile stocks and sector-related exchange traded fund shifted into high gear Wednesday as automakers revealed record U.S. sales in December that helped conclude the seventh-straight year of sales growth.

The First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (NasdaqGM: CARZ), which provides access to global automobile manufacturers, gained 2.3% Wednesday.

Auto stocks jumped after General Motors (NYSE: GM) revealed deliveries gained 10%, compared to expectations for a 4.4% rise, while Ford Motors (NYSE: F), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Japan’s three largest carmakers all posted surprise gains, reports Jamie Butters for Bloomberg.

Car industrywide deliveries for the month for the full-year are expected to top the 2015 record of 17.5 million. Analysts projected December sales would come in at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 17.6 million cars and light trucks. GM predicted the industry rate will rise to 18.2 million for December after factoring in Wednesday’s updates.

“Key economic indicators, especially consumer confidence, continue to reflect optimism about the U.S. economy and strong customer demand continues to drive a very healthy U.S. auto industry,” Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, told Bloomberg. “We believe the U.S. auto industry remains well-positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels in 2017.”